Disney World with Toddlers: What you need to know
So, your kids are toddlers and you’re wondering if a trip to Disney is even worth the trouble. Let me say, it absolutely is! Disney World is truly a place where there’s something for every age. However, knowing how fickle toddlers can be, here are some of my top tips for tackling WDW with a toddler (or two!)
Where to stay:
Toddlers aren’t particularly picky about their accommodations, but as their parent, you want to make sure everyone is comfortable and has what they need.
Value resort: Art of Animation
This resort has amazing family suites that are so well themed and spacious. You can choose from Lion King, Finding Nemo, or Cars family suites. These suites have a little wet bar with a mini fridge and two full bathrooms! You can sleep up to 6 people in the room. You can also stay in a Little Mermaid standard room if you don't need that much space. But one of my favorite parts of this resort is the Big Blue Pool--a super cute Finding Nemo themed pool complete with the Drop Off pool bar and a splash pad
nearby. This is a great pool for taking a midday break if needed.
Moderate resort: Port Orleans French Quarter
This resort feels like stepping into New Orleans. The resort is pretty quiet overall, but has some fun things your toddler will love. They will truly enjoy the Mardi Gras themed pool with a dragon waterslide and the nearby playground. My toddlers loved stopping to get Mickey beignets “just like Tiana would make” in the food court. And when you just need something to do, you can always ride the boat to Disney Springs.
Deluxe resort: Disney's Contemporary Resort
The biggest perk of this resort is location, location, location! With this resort being right on the monorail, you will have super easy (and fun!) access to Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Plus, if hauling your stroller on and off the monorail is not your idea of fun, it’s literally only a 10 minute walk to Magic Kingdom! Not only is the location of this resort amazing, but right on the 3rd floor, you’ll find Chef Mickey’s, one of the most popular character dining options in all of WDW! This resort is full of fun things to look at and find that your toddlers will love and you’ll love how easy it is to get to and from Magic Kingdom.
Where and What to Eat:
Anyone who has ever dealt with a toddler knows that they can be picky eaters. Well Disney knows this and has created options for every palate.
Buffets: A buffet will be your best bet in the battle against the picky eater. Most of the buffets are also character dining experiences too, so that’s a big perk!
Try one of these:
Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary (meet the Fab 5)
Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom (meet Pooh and friends)
Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios (meet the Fab 5)
Tusker House at Animal Kingdom (meet the Fab 5)
Quick Service: Quick service restaurants are a good way to slow down and get a full meal without being confined to a reservation time. You can usually find air conditioning and free ice water while you wait for your food. The options are usually a pretty wide range from salads, to hot dogs and burgers, to pasta. Kid options offer a wide variety as well. My daughter ordered a salad when she was 3 and ate every bit of it!
Check out these quick service restaurants:
Magic Kingdom--Cosmic Ray’s (Tomorrowland), Pecos Bill’s (Frontierland)
Epcot--Electric Umbrella (Future World), La Cantina de San Angel (Mexico pavilion), Yorkshire County Fish Shop (UK Pavilion)
Hollywood Studios--Fairfax Fare (Sunset Boulevard), Woody’s Lunchbox (Toy Story Land), Docking Bay 7 (Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge)
Animal Kingdom--Flame Tree BBQ (Discovery Island), Yak & Yeti (Asia), Satu’li Canteen (Pandora)
How to schedule:
You know your toddler(s) and their quirks best, so keep those in mind when you are thinking about your daily schedule. In my experience, my toddlers are early risers, so we went with how they naturally woke up. So, my biggest tip is to just go with the flow. If your toddlers wake early, go with it. If they tend to sleep in, go with that. Trying to force anything will make your day more difficult.
Top Tips for Scheduling:
Go with the flow--Don’t try to force anything if you don’t have to.
Take a break if you need it--You may want to go all day, but it may be worth it to head back to the hotel for a midday break if need be.
Don’t expect to do it all--There’s a ton to do, but there’s no way you’re going to get to everything. Be ok with not checking everything off your list.
Take advantage of things geared toward little ones--There’s lots to do for the toddler crowd specifically, like the Disney Junior Dance Party at Hollywood Studios. Take advantage of these fun things so they get their fill too!
Jump at the opportunity to do something you didn’t plan for--There are lots of different hidden gems around the parks that you may not expect like splash pads in Epcot or seeing Kevin in Animal Kingdom. If the opportunity arises, and your kids seem interested, go for it.
What to pack in your park bag:
Here are my must-have items when I head into the parks with my toddlers
SNACKS--bring all the things your kids like to munch on (i.e. fruit snacks, goldfish, granola bars, etc.). This will save you from spending an arm and a leg on snacks in the park.
Extra change of clothes--there’s a wide variety of reasons you may need these. Just trust me and bring them.
Wipes--even if your kids aren’t in diapers diapers anymore, you’ll definitely want to have these for any number of sticky situations.
Sunscreen--I like to have the traditional kind of sunscreen (either in the spray or rub on variety) in addition to a sunscreen stick that I use to apply it to the face. This makes it easy to rub on quickly to a wiggling toddler.
Water Bottles--At any quick service restaurant around the parks, you’ll be able to get free ice water. Bring your own water bottles to fill up and keep cool throughout the day.
One parting tip: Just buy the bubble wand. You'll thank me later. (notice ours in the stroller...)
Don’t be intimidated to take your toddlers to Disney World! You’ll end up leaving with a lifetime of memories!
About the author: Jessica is mom to twins Laila and Langston and loves taking them to Disney whenever she gets the chance. She's been planning Disney trips since 2015. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org